Sperm whales are listed as an endangered species and protected in the U.S. under both the Endangered Species Conservation Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The government of Murcia, Spain, near where the whale washed ashore, was so disturbed by the discovery it launched a campaign against dumping plastic in the water, according to Forbes.
Recently, scientists reported on just one area of plastic garbage pollution known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, revising the size of the pollution there. The patch had grown four to 16 times larger over the past decade and contains 87,000 pounds of mostly plastic trash, they said.
There are other garbage patches like the one in the Pacific in other oceans on the planet.
Some areas, including places in the U.S., have banned the use of plastic bags because of widespread pollution.